The term “sociomusicology” will inevitably replace “ethnomusicology” as the cultural study of music makers and music-making, just as cultural anthropology will soon exit the door of academe, in favour of a global re-casting of the term “sociology”. Ethno-anything, along with cultural anthropology, reinforces the divisive forces that Other places on the understanding of our global selves. Some scholars continue to offer lip-service to our equal humanity, and yet continue to reinforce the Three D’s of Other – Dress, Dance, Diet – claiming the depth of their studies negates the Othering. But as multiculturalism becomes the signature fact of nation-states and home, our Others are now our selves in our cities.

The danger in such a re-imagining is the insidious nature of cultural homogenisation, where the world begins to sound the same, especially in its malls and popular media. Therefore, sociomusicologists are in search of aspects of hybridity and identity that allows each of us, solo and in groups, to feel valued and unique while participating equally in a single global society. Sociomusicologists are also constantly triangulating the musics and dances of “away” with Western  Art Music and Dance in order to cast new light on WAM.

“Sociomusicology” does have somewhat of a history. Some of its characteristics can be traced back to Max Weber (1864-1920), one of the founding fathers of sociology. He wrote a book entitled The Rational and Social Foundation of Music (1921) that linked the Western exploration of harmony with the European development of rationalisation. Weber theorized that it was the invention of Western notation, and not music per se, that set Europe on its singular path. This line of thought was pursued by the Canadians Harold Innis and his successor, Marshall McLuhan.

I have prepared a syllabus and brief essays that explores the dynamics and history of various aspects of sociomusicology that interest me. They are seen in the table of contents on the left side of my blog. Or you can click on the following links:



Syllabus: Applied Sociomusicology


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